Congratulations!  You made it to college and now you’re officially ‘on your own’ (at least until summer vaca).  Now that you’re away from the ‘rents you may believe that it’s time to spend your money on everything that you always wanted but, frankly, there are a lot better things you could and should be doing with your money.  In fact, if you do it correctly you may actually be able to finish college with some money in the bank and a head-start on saving for things that really matter like a home and your retirement. With that in mind here are a few Tips to help you do just that.  Enjoy and remember to study hard.

Tip- Join a credit union.  We’re not just talking about opening an account where they’re giving away free t-shirts either.  Do some research and find one with great rates and perks that can help you save.

Tip- Do NOT get a credit card unless you really, truly need one and also if you’re ready to handle the financial responsibility. Keep in mind one thing; the guys trying to get you to open a credit card are there to make money, not help you. You’te not their friend and they only care about signing you up because they will profit from it.

Tip- Don’t go into debt for anything else besides your studies and study aids like books.  Sure it may seem like a great idea to put that new laptop or tablet on your credit card but it would be a better idea to save for that and buy it when you have the money in hand.

Tip- Pay all your bills on time.  This may seem like basic advice (and it is) but the fact is that if you start good habits now you’ll keep those habits as you enter the work place. Plus, try paying them as they come in so that you don’t forget them and get charged extra fees that can add up quickly.

Tip- Set up a system to track your spending, like a notebook or Quicken on your computer.  The good habits that you start now will help your credit score later, keep your budget in check and help you see and predict your spending habits in the future.

Tip- Set up a budget as well.  This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something to help you see what’s coming in (if anything) and what’s going out.

Tip- Save all of your receipts.  This is helpful to compare to your bank statements and also if you purchase something that doesn’t fit your needs or work well.

And there you have them.  If you can use these Tips and create good habits you’ll have an easier time once you enter the working world.  Good luck!